In Memoriam: Shirley Chisholm, an inspiration not only to women and blacks, but to everyone everywhere who wanted to fight the Man. And she had a great Afro too.
In Memoriam II: Kelly Freas, one of the greatest SF and humor illustrators ever. He will definitely be missed.
It’s a new year, yet World Politics are clearly on my mind. Croatia is going to a second round in its presidential election, but will it be as vicious and entertaining as Ukraine? I doubt it. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as long as you’re not talking about Eastern Europe and the lifetime is that of a mayfly. And the news is still dominated by the tsunami, and I’ve vowed to remain tsunami-free. In drug news, I have to renew my Risperdal tomorrow. If I’m off it for more than a few days, I turn psychotic, and considering my heavy knife use at work, that might just be inadvisable. I still hate my job, but I think I can deal with it (courtesy of Lamictal) until I submit my promotion paperwork in mid-April. That’s all from this end, so let’s get on with the usual…
THE PIMP SECTION
Lucard gets all wrapped up in sacred dressings for you. He still looks cute.
Games has the first of our Year-End Awards. Don’t worry, Wrestling will come soon enough, if you bastards on the smelly Forum vote. No PC action here, though, because Half-Life 2 is the obvious choice.
Or maybe the first Year-End Awards went to the Plays With Dolls Section. I’m not sure. Oh, with them it’s only the nominations. So they’re out.
Well, the Movies Section did theirs separately, so maybe they got theirs in first.
Or did Porter, because he had the first of his Sports Moments stuff in before the New Year? Although he hates the Gunners, he still gets a pimp.
It isn’t Smith, but he’s got his Top Ten for 2004. I’ve never heard of any of the artists, but it’s still a good read.
Gordi looks back to 1954 to find some good music. Good for him, because the music of today really sucks.
Cameron goes all Olbermann on us and rates 100 Baseball HoF prospects.
Misha doesn’t have much for game releases, as expected, but he still contributes.
Stein has the weekend indy results.
Nguyen isn’t the only one who loves Iron Chef. I came out and said I loved it years ago.
Stevens has the DC News and Maillaro the Marvel side of the equation. I like them. They’re always reliable.
THE ANTI-SPYWARE SECTION
Remember, this all started because the slugs at Enigma Software dared to advertise their piece of shit SpyHunter at 411 (one of the reasons why I decided to leave, honestly). So I’m responding every single column with proper anti-spyware information. And guess what? People are actually taking this to heart. They’re asking me for help if they’re infested, or they’re writing me telling me that their browsing experience is less annoying thanks to the stuff I’ve been putting up here three times a week for a few months now.
(And as I understand it, there are some unscrupulous browser toolbar people trying to advertise here at the Pulse. Well, don’t click on that ad, whatever you do. We’ll still get the money from the impressions, and your system will stay safe.)
Big, big Kudos to the guys at the Spyware Warrior Forum for pointing out to everyone the extent of criminal activity participated in by Enigma Software, makers of the bane of advertising on that site, SpyHunter. Slimeballs extraordinare, aren’t they? And in case you need more info about what flaming bags of shit they are, try here. Suzi’s Blog has a great list of other flaming bags of shit that promote anti-spyware programs that are spyware themselves. Consult it if you have questions.
(On a side note, those SpyHunter ads started over at Reality News Online, and BFM, a contributor there, spotted them. He told the webmaster, gave him those links that I cited above, the webmaster read them, the blood drained out of his face, and he contacted his ad provider. No more ads for Enigma products on RNO, thank you. So guess what? If you provide the info, there are sites who will listen.)
Here’s a list of the programs you really need to help you get rid of menaces, and, more importantly, prevent them from occurring in the first place:
Spybot and AdAware. The ONLY two spyware removal tools to trust. Do NOT buy any spyware removal tools, because none of them work better than these two, and all of them except these two are suspect.
SpywareBlaster. Will nuke thousands of different potentially malicious ActiveX controls, and now has the ability to prevent a number of non-ActiveX methods of installing spyware for people who use Mozilla/Firefox.
SpywareGuard. From Javacool, like SpywareBlaster. It’s a real-time scanner for spyware. A decent first line of defense.
IE-SpyAd. Throws numerous ad-related URLs into IE’s Restricted Zone, where they won’t display or affect your system. Bookmark this one, since it’s the only one that doesn’t have an in-program update.
A few people have recommended also installing the Sun Java Virtual Machine, since it’s Windows’ buggy, half-assed implementation of the JVM that allows a lot of spyware to install (less so within the past month and a half than before). I STRONGLY recommend that you visit here and update your version of Java.
So many people have asked about a free anti-virus program that I’m also going to recommend AVG. Totally free, and works really, really well, as well as commercial anti-virus programs. Frequent database updates, good heuristic detection, everything you want in an anti-virus package.
Another program that I’d like to add here is a little tough to work with for noobs if it goes buggy (you need to know a little something about your Networking settings in order to debug if something should go wrong). Protowall is a supplement to your firewall or NAT system. It hooks directly into XP’s networking system to block any and all traffic that comes from URLs on a list maintained by the program (all protocols, not just TCP/UDP). It’s mainly designed for anti-P2P purposes (which will appeal to a great many of my readers), but it contains lists to block spyware and ads. Its blocklist can easily be updated using its supplementary program, Blocklist Manager. I have Protowall running and a Blocklist Manager icon on my desktop, and I use Blocklist Manager to update the blocklist every couple of days. You will have problems getting to some sites unless you shut down Protowall temporarily, like ESPN or Sports Illustrated, but it does have a tray icon you can right-click and shut down in a few seconds. It’s the third layer of anti-ad material for me, with IE-SpyAd and AdSubtract running alongside it. Warning, though: it only works with XP. I’d recommend its predecessor, Peer Guardian, for other MS OSes, but it isn’t being developed anymore, and there were still bugs in it when development stopped. You can get Protowall and the Blocklist Manager (which will also work with Peer Guardian) at Bluetack’s site.
Of course, only download them from the links provided above. And only download those programs; don’t fall for the ads that are shown at various websites.
With AdAware and Spybot, check for updates using their internal update function at least once a week. Run them at least once a week or whenever you think you might have problems. Remember, the new version of Spybot has browser protection capabilities, so have that run at startup and leave it running. Check for updates to SpywareBlaster once a week. It only needs to be run once initially in order to establish protection. Then, after it downloads updates, just click on the line that says “Enable Protection For All Unprotected Items” and kill it. It doesn’t need to be active. For IE-SpyAd, bookmark the site and check for updates twice a week, since it has no kind of internal updater. Since all it does is add Registry entries, it doesn’t eat up anything. Run the Blocklist Manager every couple of days to make sure that you keep up on the latest banned URLs.
If you’re having trouble with spyware or a browser hijacker, or think that you do, head over to the SpywareInfo Forums, where the pros there can help you diagnose and get rid of stuff. I was promoted to Full Helper status there and ended up joining ASAP, the Alliance of Security Analysis Professionals. Look for their symbol.
The Ravin’ Cajun asks me to recommend a good client-side spam filter for MS mail programs running under Windows. Now, this is something I don’t have experience with because my ISPs have always had good spam filtering, plus, I use Thunderbird, which handles the remainder quite nicely, thank you. Some readers wrote in and recommended SpamBayes, which is totally free and supposedly works very well, so I’ll add it on to the anti-annoyance list that we’re building up here.
Now that 1.0 has been released, I feel good in recommending Firefox as an alternative to IE. Go grab a copy and see what you’re missing.
ONE NON-WRESTLING STORY BEFORE WE HIT THAT SHIT
From the AP Wire:
Federal officials are investigating an incident in which a laser beam was aimed at a jet after it left Nashville International Airport bound for Chicago.
Pilots of a United Airlines flight heading to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Sunday reported seeing a green laser beam shortly after takeoff.
You dumbasses. You don’t use visible lasers to blind pilots. Go to x-ray lasers. They cause permanent damage. I blame the geeks at Vandy for this.
Now on to wrestling…
SO HE DID HAVE A NON-COMPETE
From Big Johnson over at 1bullshit Junior:
Former WWE champion Brock Lesnar arrived in Tokyo, Japan this morning with former WWE star Rena “Sable” Mero, who he is engaged to. Lesnar will be attending the New Japan Pro Wrestling Tokyo Dome event tomorrow.
Lesnar told the Japanese media that he is interested in fighting for New Japan, K-1, and PRIDE but won’t do anything but “watch” until his contract with WWE expires in March. Lesnar stated that he “may do something” tomorrow at the Dome.
First of all, let me state the obvious: Brock must have a major problem getting laid, because he’s engaged to someone who’s f*cked so many wrestlers that her twat must have the opening of a train tunnel. Sable’s no Missy, of course, but her ex must be incredibly hung in order for him not to feel the looseness. I haven’t watched Mero in his matches for TNA, but now I think I will. Just to check, of course. He’ll need to sport a Dustin Runnels hard-on in order to verify, though. It’s the old scientist in me.
Now, on to Brock in earnest. This is the first time that he’s implied he had a one-year non-compete from WWE, and one so strict that it extended to all the Jap promotions. That gives him a little time to negotiate with any of the above, or with others in the Land of the Rising Yen. I don’t see him in K-1 or PRIDE, because he’s given no indication that he’s a shoot fighter or that he has skills in MMA. He’d look like a complete fool, even for him (viz. the ViQueens). NJPW is chock-full of juniors, and the focus has been on them. Are they trying to build an image change? That would be foolish for NJPW, because it’d put them in the sights of NOAH, who’s built a rep for the non-juniors on the Japanese circuit. I don’t see Misawa laying down for Lesnar, which is about the only way that they can build the guy into a formidable heel (this is assuming that he’d go for a NOAH contract, and he hasn’t mentioned NOAH).
Personally, when the bad heat dies down, he’ll be back in WWE, probably as soon as Summerslam (although they’re supposedly trying to get him for Wrestlemania to go against TBS, but they’re not returning his calls right now, according to Da Meltz). Unfortunately, he’ll be dragging that egotistical cunt in his wake, and I don’t think that Vince wants to deal with her again after her antics in the Smackdown dressing room. He’s got new divas to build on both shows, and bringing her back will spoil the ambience. Will Brock go for a contract that doesn’t include the fiancee? We’ll probably see.
AND SPEAKING OF DIVAS…
Here’s another one from Big Johnson:
Several of the released WWE Divas are starting to pop up on the independent scene. As Jess McGrath reported over the weekend, Nidia is scheduled to debut for IWA Puerto Rico shortly. Gail Kim’s first known independent appearance will be a charity event on 3/5/05 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with The Fabulous Moolah & Mae Young vs. “Dirty White Girls” who may end up being a combination of Kim, Jazz, and Nidia. The show is scheduled for the Conway High School and is the 1st Annual McLeod Children’s Hospital Charity Event with Jimmy Snuka, The Rock N’ Roll Express, and the Original Midnight Express also appearing.
Well, good for them. They got unceremoniously pushed out for the Diva Search finalists, who have done nothing to benefit WWE except for Amy Weber (and possibly Joy Giamatti), who has leeched off High-Quality Speaker Boy’s inexplicable heat. This event also had the side effec
t of reducing the women’s division to generally sucky Trish versus Lita matches, with another one scheduled for New Years’ Revolution. We don’t need this. Who ever thought we’d miss Gail Kim? Good for the women, though, that they’re able to get bookings. Let’s see if they provide some enhancement for the indies.
WILLING TO GIVE US SOME INSIDE INFO
In last week’s dead-tree Observer, Da Meltz let us in on some of the insider stuff that both enhanced and complicated the existence of ECW. A lot of this is my speculation, of course. I started my column a year ECW’s last house show and WCW went in the toilet, so I was covering this event as a rookie, and watched the nightmare as a contributor to Delphi’s wrestling forums prior to getting a column. So I know a lot of my stuff about ECW from osmosis and memory. For instance, Heyman always had a job with WWE in case ECW folded, unlike his boys. At the same time he was getting checks from Vince, he was negotiating with Eric Bischoff, who did things like allow Brian Pillman to work ECW in order to enhance the “Pillman was fired by WCW” angle. That fact was relatively unknown to the smarks.
What delayed the entrance of Rob Van Dam into WWE after ECW folded? Heyman’s blaming of Van Dam (and Sabu) for “refusing to do” what was asked of them during the short-lived interpromotional deal between WWE and ECW. This gave Van Dam a bad rep with Vince and Ross, which took a few years to repair (which is why Van Dam’s being heavily pushed right now; he’s regarded as a good boy with a loyalty to Vince; unfortunately, he’s pissed that away with his refusal to work Iraq). Of course, Heyman was encouraging Van Dam and Sabu to do that, because he wanted parity with his guys and for them not to job to WWE curtain jerkers. Also, of course, this happened a long time before Heyman put all his eggs in the Van Dam basket, only to watch him disappear from TV due to various reasons (his wife getting into a boating accident, his ankle getting injured, and his disillusion with ECW after they fell behind on his salary).
Heyman’s relationship to the Big Two was also a little bit of kayfabe and a little bit of reality. On camera, he hated Vince, but Vince was giving him cash to support ECW, so it was kayfabe, although risky because McMahon could cut off the spigot at any time if he felt that ECW was going too far. Heyman bad-mouthed Bisch publicly, but there was real hatred there, probably because of WCW’s repeated talent raids on ECW that brought ECW stalwars like Benoit, Guerrero, Jericho, Sandman, Awesome, Storm, the luchadores, and others to WCW.
The real death of ECW was USA Networks saying no to them to bring the promotion there. They had a very sour taste after the way Vince left, and decided that wrestling wasn’t worth it, especially with a no-name promotion (among the general public) who went to dangerous lengths to entertain the public. The TNN deal was a sop that caused a hemorrhage of money for ECW.
According to Gabe Sapolsky, whose honest rep has taken a beating due to the delay in getting rid of Rob Feinstein, the house show revenue of ECW was neutered when the Dudleys left for WWE. If they’d still had the Dudleys, they could have put asses in seats for the house shows and delayed the destruction of the promotion for a bit. Buh Buh Ray worked in the office at the time, as he said on the DVD, and with his business background, he saw where ECW was going, but wanted to stay. This led to the now-famous $1 More Offer, which Heyman rejected.
The guys at the top were making 156 grand a year, a lot less than Vince could have paid them, and of course, a lot of them got stiffed. During the bankruptcy proceedings, Van Dam said he was in the hole for 100 thou. Heyman was psychotic enough to offer Tazz more than double that amount to stay, which the company couldn’t afford under any circumstances. In its last year, the promotion lost $2.5 million, a pittance compared to WCW’s losses, but Heyman didn’t have the sugar daddy of Time-Warner to cover him. He couldn’t ask Vince for the cash, because this was the period before WWE IPOed itself, and Vince didn’t have the cash on hand to rescue ECW. Also, this was the period where Vince was courting Viacom, and ECW would have been a competitor on the same network. Vince had a reason to let ECW die at that point in order to get WWE on TNN.
What didn’t help ECW was the competition from WCW. ECW’s hot angles were coopted by Kevin Sullivan within weeks of being presented on ECW. Of course, Sully’s then-wife Nancy was working for ECW, so Sully got advance notice of what was going to happen. Vince delayed trying to do ECW’s angles because he had advertisers to placate and didn’t have the power of Time-Warner to fall back on. It wasn’t until Shane convinced him to try out some risky stuff that ECW pioneered that Vince gave in and changed the company’s image and start the Attitude Era. Vince, I believed, was actually shocked when it worked, although he could have asked Austin at any time what made him popular with ECW, namely the risky promos that he cut (of course, he could have also asked Foley as well).
Mikey Whipwreck was started as a knock on a local promoter, Dennis Whiprecht. No one foresaw how popular he would become.
In a calculated risk, Heyman and Tod Gordon insisted that Shane Douglas win the NWA title (which led to the throw-down of the belt and the creation of Extreme Championship Wrestling), while Dennis Coraluzzo wanted Chris Benoit as champ. Our Lord and Savior could have had a world belt ten years prior to actually getting it, which would have enhanced his status in WCW and WWE tremendously. However, Heyman and Gordon were right in this case. I have to agree. Douglas may have been an asshole backstage, but he was always nice to the fans. Somewhere among the mess of the multiple moves, I have a pic of myself with Shane that was taken at Pillman 2000, and he treated me with respect when I got his autograph. In a twist that few know, present Philly sports anchor John Clark, then a teenager, told Coraluzzo about the intended double-cross, but Coraluzzo ignored him. That was a fatal miscalculation for NWA, and caused them to go underground to this day (with the exception of the botched NWA angle in WWE).
After the Awesome-to-Tazz belt transition in Indianapolis (in which Awesome sold shit), Heyman told Vince that he could have the title for nine days, until the next house show, in which Tazz would drop the belt to Tommy Dreamer. The plan for the match was for Perry Saturn, whom Tazz was feuding with in WWE, to do a run-in and cost Tazz the title. Vince thought this move was “so trivial” that he refused to remove Saturn from a WWE house show that had been booked for that night that Heyman had to neuter Tazz (in respect to WWE) to cause Dreamer to have a clean win.
It was Nancy Sullivan (now Nancy Benoit) who convinced her then-husband to sign Rey Misterio. At the time, Bischoff had never seen Rey-Rey wrestle until two weeks prior to his WCW debut. This showed how WCW was out of control even then, when its corporate head let his chief booker sign a guy without Bisch even seeing him. Unbelievable, really.
Bisch also didn’t know jack shit about Jericho until Da Meltz provided a tape to someone at WCW that showed off Jericho’s Super J-Cup matches. That’s a great example of how much attention WCW and WWE paid to ECW. It was Bisch’s idea to try to do a juniors tournament in WCW, which would have been original in the US (most of the fans having never seen the Japanese tournaments), and Jericho was a key element in that. Bisch actually went to Benoit to get a recommendation for Jericho, which Benoit, who still had a decent relationship with WCW after the tryout matches that never worked, provided.
Great stuff from Da Meltz, and I thought it was worthy to present it to a wider audience because it tells the stuff that wasn’t presented on the ECW DVD.
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Also according to Da Meltz, the heavily-hyped Fusion show in Joisey didn’t live up to expectations. It drew only 250 fans, and they watched a revival of the Clique as both Scott Hall and Sean Waltman went over. The crowd almost revolted when the bookers, the Maximos, went over Ultimo Dragon and Amazing Red (the “crowd” was behind Dragon big-time). All in all, a disaster that many people were saying could revive the indy scene.
AND SPEAKING OF HYPE…
Da Meltz is also revealing some plans for Wrestlemania, and us Internet smarks may just be in revolt over this. First of all, they’re trying to get Wife-Beater back in the fold, but the chances of him actually wrestling are less than even money. They’re also trying to land Flex for a match between him and High-Quality Speaker Boy, which Scooter will rate at three snowflakes because of his inexplicable Flex love and his explicable Bradshaw hatred. The title change to Cena will be put off until after the draft, which they’ll repeat this year (of course, Cena will have to go over Kenzo Suzuki at Royal Rumble in order to hold his US title and get that push). In news that will make Fleabag head for the scotch, Foley is pushing for a Foley versus Vince match, which he regrets not doing sooner. In news that will make everyone head for the scotch, they’re trying to get Hogan for a Hall of Fame spot and to wrestle on the show, where he’d put some unknown superstar over. They might also blow the money match of Trip versus Orton versus Batista on No Way Out in order to draw some audience for what’s traditionally the most useless PPV in WWE.
Just reading this makes me physically ill.
FUTURE PLANS FOR TNA
Da Meltz also revealed the next two names for TNA PPVs. The February show will be called “Against All Odds”, and the March show will be called “Destination X”. Although the names well and truly suck, the March show does show some promise, as it implies a concentration on the X Division. Let’s hope this is the case and the involvement of Jarrett, Nash, and Hall are minimized.
And speaking of involvement being minimized, will Trip hog more camera time this week on Raw? Let’s have a look…
THE SHORT FORM
Dave Batista over Chris Benoit (Pinfall, DAVEbomb): Six months, this would have been unimaginable and would have caused riots throughout the IWC. However, Batista has improved so much…hell, he’s even improved his no-selling, as witnessed by this match. The apres-sketch also shows that he’s improved his SE. Many people in the super-secret writers’ forum have said that he’s going to be the breakout star of 2005. You can’t really argue about that.
Edge over Chris Jericho (Pinfall, victory roll): Remember that short list of reliable matches that I discussed last week? Edge/Jericho is on there now. A lot of people went after Edge when he took an extended amount of time to get over his ring rust after coming back from injury. However, that’s behind him now, and he’s put together a string of good matches, this being one of them. He’s got enough good opponents in the uppercard/upper-mid-card to show off his skills as long as he’s getting his current push. So, in other words, he’s fully back and doing work on the level that he was doing as one of the Smackdown Six.
Shelton Benjamin over Sylvain Grenier, Non-Title Match (Pinfall, t-bone suplex): The match was really nothing, but they calculated that. It was all about the maturation of Heel Maven. Surprisingly, he held his own on commentary and sold the New Years’ Revolution match quite well. There really is a personality starting to come through there. I know, we’re all in shock, but we’ll get over it.
Trish Stratus over Victoria (Pinfall, Chick Kick): Of course, this match was simply a set-up for the chain appearances of Lita, Snitsky, and Kane. But it does point out a deficiency that WWE has right now. They have to build up Victoria and Molly Holly in order to have a semblance of a women’s division, but Trish is so dominant that it may prevent that from happening. In which case, Trish’s boast of being a five-time women’s champion will mean jack shit.
Christian over Nick Dinsmore (Pinfall, reversed sunset flip): Death to retards. Next.
Randy Orton over Trip (Pinfall, RKO): An incredibly dull match until the expected PPV Pimp Schmozz started. Nothing more to say about it, really.
The Great Debate: As far as I’m concerned, Ross and Lawler got what they deserved when Ross pulled out the “love it or leave it” line. America, first and foremost, is built on dissent. We have the guaranteed freedom to express our views, no matter how offensive they are. If they happen to be unpopular or go against the “majority”, too bad. God knows that I’ve offended a lot of people in my time by tacking against the prevaling winds (on September 11th, the Senile Old Fuck, and many other situations), but I have the constitutional right to do it. And, like all privileges granted to us, if we don’t use it, it’ll disappear. So use your freedom of expression, please. Otherwise, you’re playing into the hands of narrow-minded idiots like Jim Ross.
KC Evers (no relation) spotted something that I didn’t at first:
You know what made this whole Hassan Debate frigthening? That it was in New York. I think the crowd response is telling….and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I don’t like they’re making him such an obvious heel in the process.
Neither do I, KC. As you also said, you can stand up and fight for your rights, which is what Hassan is doing. Personally, that makes him a hero in my book, and that Cornell study that he cited last week shows exactly what Arab-Americans are up against these days. If they don’t speak out due to fear of being further polarized and alienated from American society, then their acceptance into American society will be delayed.
One thing Hassan brought up is that America is naturally racist. He’s right. If some academic institution did a survey a hundred and fifty years ago like Cornell did today, substituting the word “Irish” for “Arab”, they would have come up with the same results. If you did that survey a hundred years ago, you might get the same results substituting the word “Catholic” for “Arab”. Al Smith lost his presidential bid in 1928 in part because of his Catholicism. John Kennedy also did the same in 1960 until he was able to defuse it, but it took a great deal of skill and selling. Chicago’s history in the Nineteenth Century (and going into the Twentieth) is a panoply of ethnic street battles, in which one ethnic group would try to kick the shit out of another just because they were different (I won’t even get into the intra-ethnic street battles among the Irish, because that was more turf war than anything else). We all know about the treatment of African-Americans and Native Americans. You can even argue that Hispanics are treated this way today, because they’re willing to take all the shit jobs that other Americans don’t want to do (a tradition among new arrivals, by the way) and are looked down upon because of that. It’s not something to be proud of, but it’s a necessary step to achieving the old “melting pot” ideal. That doesn’t justify it, though.
What Arab-Americans need is the equivalent of a Martin Luther King or Cesar Chavez, someone willing to speak out against the inequality. That may change the minds of a lot of people.
And I hope I changed your minds about some stuff. Tune in tomorrow for more.